Today’s post was written by Julia White, general manager for the Office Product Management team.
In the conversations I have with customers and partners, I’m often asked how SharePoint will evolve in Office 365, and what the future holds for SharePoint on-premises. As we move into 2015, continue to roll out new innovation within Office 365, and get closer to the next on-premises server release, I wanted to take this time to provide full context about the road ahead.
When we started this journey, SharePoint began as a content collaboration solution focused on team sites. As the product evolved, we added new experiences such as portals, search, business intelligence (BI) and enterprise content management (ECM). Across all of these experiences, SharePoint offers a consistent management layer providing control to customers. We also made SharePoint an extensible platform, allowing customers and partners to enhance the out-of-box experiences. Experiences, management and extensibility became the core aspects of what people love about SharePoint. As we move SharePoint forward, these three aspects continue to remain central—both within the server and across Office 365.
The cloud enables us to bring the experiences, management and extensibility together across not just SharePoint, but all of the Office technologies. We can finally break down individual product installations into a cohesive productivity solution, enabling holistic capabilities that provide greater value to customers and partners. The cloud also allows us to rapidly innovate and deliver new experiences faster than ever before. At the same time, we’re building collaboration, mobility and machine learning capabilities right into all of the Office experiences, enabling a generational transformation in the way people work.
Evolution of SharePoint in the cloud
We’re evolving SharePoint in the cloud with Office 365, investing in the same core areas of experiences, management and extensibility, in addition to making significant investments in hybrid. But, we realize many customers continue to run their businesses on-premises, within the firewall or with hybrid deployments. That’s why we are committed to making the next version of SharePoint server the most secure, stable and reliable version to date—allowing organizations to take advantage of cloud innovation on their terms.
In Office 365 we’re bringing experiences together across all Office technologies, adding new experiences like Office Delve and Office 365 Video alongside email, instant messaging and the traditional SharePoint workloads, while maintaining core IT and Dev capabilities for management and extensibility across all of these experiences, and establishing strong hybrid connections.
In addition to providing the traditional SharePoint capabilities, such as Search, Content and Team Sites—and a great platform to build on—we’re delivering new, targeted experiences within Office 365. These experiences are collaborative, bringing teams together in an always-connected world; mobile, truly productive using any device; intelligent, contextual, relevant and personalized; ready to go, with shorter time to value; and cross-suite, blending experiences across Office 365 and blurring the lines across traditional product silos.
To illustrate this, let’s take a look at some of the innovation that we’re working on:
- Search—Going beyond traditional enterprise search, Office Delve is a new way to discover relevant information and connections from data across Office 365, as well as provide predictive search capabilities. Delve personalizes content based on insights delivered from the Office Graph, helping people connect with the right information at the right time.
- Portals—Over the years, our customers have built incredibly rich, dynamic portals. Now we’re expanding the portfolio and delivering new ‘ready-to-go’ Portals that historically would have taken customers weeks, if not months, to build. NextGen Portals, by design, are intelligent, collaborative, mobile and ready to go. Office 365 Video, delivered in 2014, is the first NextGen Portal. In 2015, we’ll add new portals focused on knowledge management and people, as well.
- Files—In addition to the general purpose document libraries in SharePoint, OneDrive provides users with one place to easily store, sync and share personal files across devices—with security, reliability and manageability squarely in place for IT. OneDrive ultimately removes the need for personal file servers and local hard drives while enabling easier sharing and collaboration across the organization. Last week we rolled out a new update and offering for iOS and Mac.
- Team sites—Within Office 365, we have the opportunity to expand the concept of team sites. In doing so, we can bring together team content traditionally kept in SharePoint, along with the broader set of information across Office 365 including email, instant messaging, tasks, contacts, personal files, social feeds and more. This holistic team experience across Office 365 offers simplified permissions for the user and holistic management, governance and extensibility models, making it a win for IT and for users.
- BI—With Power BI we took forward the vision of creating a “ready to go” solution that users and IT can get up and running in minutes. Built on top of Office 365, Power BI provides an integrated analytical platform in the cloud that connects to your important information from where it lives via the Excel interface users know.
- Social—We’re evolving social from a standalone newsfeed to immersive experiences across Office 365. As part of Office 365, Yammer makes it easy for users to participate in the conversations that matter most, quickly iterate on ideas within a team and scale impact across the company. To help users work in new, more dynamic ways, we’ve integrated the Yammer experience alongside Office documents and videos, as well as common line of business applications such as Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com, and offer mobile access across platforms.
We deeply understand complex business and IT requirements. And we recognize that management, security, privacy and compliance are paramount. Whether you run in Office 365 and/or on-premises, we’re committed to delivering the best-in-class enterprise grade platform. The ability to manage all user experiences through one management layer has been a core part of the evolution of SharePoint. In Office 365, we are expanding this management layer, and have created a unified experience for compliance, management and IT controls that span across Office 365—in addition to SharePoint, across Exchange, Lync and all of the new experiences. We continue to refine and invest in capabilities like Rights Management, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), eDiscovery, Legal Hold, Metadata Management and Policy Control, in addition to capabilities such as Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and Mobile Device Management (MDM) to deliver a rock solid, secure and reliable platform you can trust.
SharePoint got to where it is today with the help of over 3.4 million developers worldwide who built extensions and customizations on top of the platform. This principle holds true moving forward—while the way developers build for the cloud is different—we absolutely want to enable customers and partners to build new, innovative applications and customizations that meet their needs. We are doing this by continuing to advance the app model we introduced with SharePoint 2013, bringing more custom capabilities as well as making it easy to connect to data in SharePoint through a rich set of Office 365 APIs. We will keep investing in the surface area of these APIs plus introduce totally new APIs (like Office Graph and Office 365 Video) to enable even deeper levels of integration. IT, developers and partners will be able to achieve greater levels of customization for their customers.
We are seeing rapid growth of customers using apps and APIs, which integrate and connect with SharePoint data every day in Office 365. Customers are leveraging our training, guidance and code in our open source Patterns and Practices project to achieve the level of sophisticated solutions previously delivered using full-trust code on-premises. But we know developers are asking for more and we love listening to the feedback! The opportunity to develop new capabilities and integrations with SharePoint has never been more exciting. The development innovation pipeline is chartered to unblock and enable developers. Get your 1s and 0s ready—and code!
Hybrid and on-premises
We know that the move to cloud doesn’t happen all at once. While we’ve seen growing demand for SharePoint Online, we recognize that our customers have a range of requirements that make maintaining existing SharePoint Server deployments the right decision for some. We remain committed to meeting those needs. We’re excited about the next on-premises version of SharePoint and we’re sure you will be too. It has been designed, developed and tested with the Microsoft Software as a Service (SaaS) strategy at its core, drawing from SharePoint Online. With this, SharePoint Server 2016 will offer customers enhanced, flexible deployment options, improved reliability and new IT agility, enabled for massive scale.
We’re also investing deeply in hybrid to allow customers to take advantage of cloud capabilities at their own pace. A hybrid SharePoint deployment can provide IT agility by creating a consistent platform spanning datacenters and cloud, simplifying IT and delivering apps and data to users on any device, anywhere. With SharePoint Server 2016, in addition to delivering rich on-premises capabilities, we’re focused on robust hybrid enablement in order to bring more of the Office 365 experiences to our on-premises customers.
We’re evolving SharePoint in new ways within Office 365 and through our traditional server releases. 2014 was a busy year with many new innovations released and there’s a lot more than what is highlighted above. We delivered many new experiences, provided more management control, and progressed overall extensibility while investing in hybrid to help best connect your investments.
I’m personally very excited about our vision for Office 365 and SharePoint and can’t wait to share more in 2015—both about our continued innovation in the cloud, as well as provide more details and get early feedback on the next version of server products.
You can expect to hear a lot more from us come May 4-8, 2015 at Microsoft Ignite in Chicago, IL. We’ll have the best and brightest minds in one place to share all things SharePoint and Office 365. Have a look at the SharePoint and related sessions list with more to come, and know that we’ll soon release our list of hands-on-labs, all breakout speakers and pre-day trainings. Excited to see you there.